By Britni Schock, News Editor
Kellie Miyazu, Graphic Designer
If you read the last issue of Da Peppah and saw the ‘E-cigarettes and Hurricanes’ satire article this is an update on the latest status of the infamous E-cig controversy. At this point, there is absolutely no connection between hurricanes in Hawaii and the vapor from electronic cigarettes, however there are new laws on the use of these devices. The use of E-cigs has skyrocketed not only here in Hawaii but also on the mainland. They were portrayed as a safe alternative to tobacco cigarettes with a ‘harmless’ vapor that comes in a variety of flavors.
As of Monday Jan. 12, 2015, Mayor Billy Kenoi passed a bill that put the same regulations on electronic cigarettes or ‘vape’ devices that are currently on tobacco cigarettes. There have been designated areas for tobacco smoking formed over the last few years, but E-cigs were not restricted to these areas until Monday when the bill was signed by Kenoi. The bill was promoted by many as a way to make the island healthier, said Kenoi to the Hawaii Tribune Herald.
With the use of electronic smoking devices being relatively new it is hard to say what their long-term effects could be. Studies on the vapor have been done, but the liquids that are used to create the flavored vapor are not regulated. Further study, testing and regulations on the liquid would put a lot of minds at ease and give the evidence that these devices are either safe or not. Currently there is not enough data to give either pros or cons to the use of E-cigs, so this creates some conflict.
On the opposing side of the new ban, many argue that the electronic smoking devices have shown no signs of harm to humans. They were put forth as a healthy alternative to tobacco cigarettes and as a way to aid in the reduction and eventual stop of nicotine intake. One student at University of Hawaii at Hilo, who prefers to remain anonymous said, “They have no proof that E-cigs are harmful and people still going to puff them wherever they like. It’s doo-doo brah! You see people smoking cigarettes all over campus and they don’t enforce the rules so what’s going to be different with E-cigs?” This student chooses to vape as a way to cut out traditional tobacco and enjoy the variety of flavors. The student adds, “I love the flavors and it smells so good too. Until we get proof that they are unsafe we should be able to puff wherever.” The strong views from both sides make for a very interesting argument and it seems the debate won’t quit until people see some facts.
With so many new and interesting technologies being presented to us constantly, we must not forget to question not only the short-term effects but the long-term effects of these technologies. Electronic cigarettes have become such a popular device that the increased use of them was bound to stir up some questions and debates. Mayor Kenoi signed this bill with the idea that we do not know enough about the new devices to allow them to be used so freely. Restricting the areas where people are allowed to ‘vape’ is a precaution that Kenoi deems necessary for Hawaii Island.